12 Feb An Inspiring Fourth Season of Salomon Running TV by The African Attachment
“Mountains are a state of mind. Running is a state of mind. Salomon brings those states of mind together.”
Established in the French Alps in 1947, Salomon manufactures gear for mountian-oriented sports including running, skiing and snow boarding. Dean Leslie, the creative head at The African Attachment, began working with the brand as a producer and director in 2011. “Our relationship with Salomon began when we were contacted to create a short film series following one of their elite team members Kilian Jornet (who was the Nat Geo Adventurer of the Year in 2014) as he took on 5 trail races on 5 continenets,” Dean says. “It was a very reactive based style of shooting, but proved to be a very successful project for Salomon and was timed well with the growth of the sport.”
The following year, Dean and his team were contacted again to produce a follow-up series which concentrated on the general team approach in what was then percieved as more of an individual sport. The project was called ‘Collective Dreams’. “By the end of 2012,” says Dean,” there were quite a few brands starting to follow suit by creating films around races and teams, so we wanted to shift our approach. We flew over to France at the end of that year to meet with the marketing guys and discuss ideas for moving forward. This is what really led to the birth of Salomon Running TV in 2013 (which we launched as Season 03). The guys at Salomon are quite progressive in their approach and they give us a lot of space to make the films we want to. The brief was simple – inspire people to run and try to grow the sport of trail running.”
Following a successful Season 03 and with great feedback from the trail running community, Salomon TV has recently launched Season 04 with 8 episodes. The team spent 6 weeks in the USA filming 5 of these – 3 in the Colorado Rockies, 1 in the Giant Redwoods of Northern California and 1 with South African surf legend Shaun Tomson at his home in Santa Barbara, California. The other 3 episodes were filmed in the Scottish Highlands and Lake Districts in the UK, the city of Berlin as well as the French and Italian Alps. Spanning these awe-inspiring locations, Season 04 tells some incredible stories and features some of the best mountain athletes in the world. An episode titled ‘The Ultimate Fan’ centres on an 80 year old Colorado resident by the name of Bill Dooper, and ‘Of Fells and Hills’ is a road trip piece exploring the fell running history and culture in the UK. ‘Krogers Canteen’ stars Roch Horton who runs an Aid Station in a 100 mile race in the San Juan Mountain Range, which is perched on a ledge at over 13,000ft.
Producing one season of Salomon Running TV takes about a year from concept to completion. Dean explains, “We pitch about 20-30 film concepts every year in November. By December we have narrowed down the concepts to around 15 short films with the idea of making 8-12 shorts. We usually start filming around April which is the beginning of the Northern Hemisphere summer. We film all around the world till October. Our summers usually see us deep in post-production and then the trailer usually launches in the January of the following year.”
Throughout this process, the team has experienced and dealt with the challenges of multiple car breakdowns, broken or lost gear, injuries and altitude sickness. “It is so varied, and it requires so much to produce a film that is ultimately only a few minutes long,” says Dean. “The biggest challenge of all is probably the long hours in the edit suite. This is where a lot of the crafting and storytelling takes place, and there are no shortcuts or easy ways other than pouring hours upon hours to try to do a story justice.” However for Dean, filmmaking – and especially documentary filmmaking – is a practise of project solving.
Though every project comes with its own set of unique challenges, these are precisely what make the entire process so rewarding. “You spend months preparing and researching, and then you change your plans entirely on the first day of the shoot. It’s one of the reasons I love film. It is so multi-faceted that no day is ever the same.” Another reason Dean is drawn to film is its potency – the fact that a few minutes is often all it takes to inspire someone to invoke action or change. He says, “This has been one of those experiences that will always stay with you, but the real highlight for me is having the opportunity to share these stories and adventures with so many people. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to make these kinds of films, and to be a small part of the trail running community.”
The episodes are released online each month, through the Salomon Running YouTube and Facebook channels, and they’re also screened at international film festivals and events. “The stories are really quite diverse”, Dean says, “and I hope people watch them and are inspired to get out and explore. If running is the means then all the better.”
Watch episode 1, ‘The Ultimate Fan’: